Needham Patch: Democracy Amendment on the Needham Ballot, November 6

From the Needham Patch – [On election day, Nov. 6,] Needham residents will  join more than 150 communities across Massachusetts in voting on a nonbinding question that, if approved, would direct legislators to overturn the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision through an amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

“It’s saying that we the people, who are voting on this, want Congress to pass a constitutional amendment that says that corporations do not have the same rights as human people and that the legislature should be able to pass laws regulating political spending and campaign contributions,” said Harmony Wu, a Needham activist and supporter of the issue.

Many Needham residents saw a similar question at the 2012 Annual Town Meeting, when a majority of members approved the measure following about an hour of debate. The Town Meeting article urged the town’s state representatives to support a constitutional amendment.

In June, the Massachusetts legislature did pass a resolution that called upon Congress to enact a constitutional amendment.

Proponents are hoping the response to this new question—which represents the voices of thousands of voters across the commonwealth—will further underline the importance of a constitutional amendment.

“It’s nonbinding, and some might say, what’s the point?” Wu said. “The bigger rationale is that this is an avenue by which people have to organize and mobilize, and when we do this, it becomes part of a large voice calling for change. We’re just trying to make it so that the powers that be can’t ignore this movement.”

Because the threshold for getting a question on the ballot for a senate district is higher than getting a question on the ballot for a legislative district, and the efforts to collect signatures by the deadline were divided, Needham residents in each of the town’s two districts will see different[ly numbered] questions on Nov. 6, [with slight variations in wording,] Wu said.

Voters in precincts A-C, I and J will see a question instructing both the senator [Richard Ross, R] and the representative [Denise Garlick, D] to support an amendment (Questions 4 and 5), while voters in precincts D-H will only see a question instructing the representative [Denise Garlick] to do so (Question 5).

The wording of all questions is as follows (substituting senator or representative depending on the [precinct]):

Shall the state senator [or state representative] from this district be instructed to vote in favor of a resolution calling upon Congress to propose an amendment to the U.S. constitution affirming that (1) corporations are not entitled to the constitutional rights of human beings, and (2) both Congress and the states may place limits on political contributions and political spending?

Placing the questions on the ballot at an election with a highly anticipated turnout will also help make voters more aware of the issue overall, Wu said.

“It’s a public education campaign as well. By seeing the question on the ballot, it increases awareness,” she said.

Read More: http://needham.patch.com/articles/needham-voters-to-see-citizens-united-questions

MORE INFORMATION, on this site, ABOUT THE DEMOCRACY AMENDMENT: Question 5 in Prec.D-H, Question 4 in Precincts A-C, I-J:

Dark Money In State and Local Elections

Buying a presidential race is incredibly difficult.

But you can significantly influence if not turn the tide in a congressional election with a lot less money.

More great work from Bill Moyers & Company

In the wake of Wisconsin’s $63.5 million recall election, we caught up with Mother Jonesreporter Andy Kroll to discuss the role of dark money in state and local elections.

Lauren Feeney: Big national organizations like American Crossroads and Club for Growth Action are pouring money not just into the presidential election, but also into state and local races. Why?

Andy Kroll: Three words: Return on investment.

You can turn an election a lot easier at the congressional level than you can at the presidential level.

Continue reading

Obama calls for Constitutional Amendment

Obama in online chat says that mobilizing for a Constitutional Amendment to overturn Citizens United is a good idea. Even if an Amendment fails, he notes, the process of individuals organizing around the problem of money will help shine a light on the massive problem, which could force lawmakers to take the legislative action they so far have not.

We think President Obama must have been watching the Needham Channel replays of Needham Town Meeting!:

Question: What are you going to do to end the corrupting influence of money in politics during your second term?

Answer: Money has always been a factor in politics, but we are seeing something new in the no-holds barred flow of seven and eight figure checks, most undisclosed, into super-PACs; they fundamentally threaten to overwhelm the political process over the long run and drown out the voices of ordinary citizens.

We need to start with passing the Disclose Act that is already written and been sponsored in Congress – to at least force disclosure of who is giving to who.

We should also pass legislation prohibiting the bundling of campaign contributions from lobbyists.

Over the longer term, I think we need to seriously consider mobilizing a constitutional amendment process to overturn Citizens United (assuming the Supreme Court doesn’t revisit it).

Even if the amendment process falls short, it can shine a spotlight of the super-PAC phenomenon and help apply pressure for change.

Obama Calls For Constitutional Amendment To Overturn Citizens United In Online Chat | Alternet – http://bit.ly/NZqnTH

Massachusetts Legislatures Votes to Call for Amendment

Breaking news!

Massachusetts State Legislature Calls on Congress to Enact Constitutional Amendment Reversing Citizens United Decision

Massachusetts joins Rhode Island, Vermont, California, Maryland, New Mexico and Hawaii in calling for an amendment to restore democracy.

The Citizens United decision is a tremendous threat to our democracy.

The very integrity of our political system is at stake.

I am proud of the House for passing this resolution yesterday and, along with the Senate, sending a strong message that our democracy isn’t for sale.

–Rep. Cory Atkins

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Citizens United Undermines Our Elections and the Supreme Court

As we draw closer to the November election, it becomes clearer that this year’s contest, thanks to the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision, will be financially dominated by big money, including, whether directly or indirectly, big money from the treasuries of corporations of all kinds.

Without a significant change in how our campaign finance system regulates the influence of corporations, the American election process, and even the Supreme Court itself, face a more durable, long-term crisis of legitimacy.

Russ Feingold

More than a Bit of an Oligarchy

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In principle, every American citizen has an equal say in our political process. In practice, of course, some of us are more equal than others.

Billionaires can field armies of lobbyists; they can finance think tanks that put the desired spin on policy issues; they can funnel cash to politicians with sympathetic views (as the Koch brothers did in the case of Mr. Walker).

On paper, we’re a one-person-one-vote nation.

In reality, we’re more than a bit of an oligarchy,

in which a handful of wealthy people dominate.

-Economist P. Krugman, Feb. 2011